I love glitter heat transfer vinyl, such as GlitterFlex Ultra. It cuts great and looks beautiful on garments. And, it weeds great …as long as you are not cutting and weeding small pieces.
However, I often use GlitterFlex Ultra on baby bodysuits, (or even doll shirts… talk about teeny tiny pieces) which sometimes requires weeding very small areas. And, this is when I don’t love it quite so much!
It is difficult to see the cut lines on this vinyl. Additionally, it can be a bit “stretchy” when I am weeding around tiny pieces and sometimes pieces get stretched out of shape or accidentally broken off.
I love GlitterFlex Ultra too much to quit using it. But I’d also like to keep my sanity. So, I’ve done a little research and a lot of practice to figure out some tricks to make weeding easier. It’s not perfection, but certainly has made things less frustrating.
- I like to check my file to see if it needs any node editing, welding, etc. (I am not too fond of Make The Cut’s node editing feature, so I do most of that in Inkscape. However I do re-check and make final adjustments in MTC if needed.) Typically, I change the number and/or position of nodes before cutting, especially when working with fonts.
- Below is an example of something that can be easily adjusted. The “c” almost touches the “h”, but not quite. It will be easier to weed if they are welded. I could slightly shadow this and that would probably take care of it. Or, letters could be moved horizontally. But, since the other letters are already touching, I’d prefer to simply use the “handle” of the node to take the “end” of the “c” and stretch it into the “h” before welding the letters together.
- I have learned to take time to add weed lines. If I have an intricate design or text, I like to make a box or rectangle around it first. It works well to make the lines on or just outside of the bounding box.
- Next, I add more weed lines closer in. That way, if I’m having trouble seeing where lines are, at least I can weed out the outer portion, just inside the bounding box weed lines first. That gets me close to my design without having to worry about accidentally weeding out something that I didn’t intend to. Then I can really take my time and weed carefully as I work closer to the design. (I use an Xacto knife for weeding so I can always use that to make a few more weed lines manually while I’m actually doing the weeding.)
- It’s important to make sure settings are correct. Don’t give in to the temptation of giving too much blade exposure. GlitterFlex Ultra seems thicker than regular ThermoFlex Plus, for example. But I find that I can keep my exposure the same or very slightly increased. Too much blade has a tendency to lift tiny pieces on fonts. The font in the illustration above has a slight little curl on the top of the “C”, and it will lift up if the blade is out too much. Actually, that is usually my first clue that my blade exposure is excessive.
These are the settings that work best with my KNK Zing:
- Force – 50 – 60 (The manual says 30 – 40, but I found the higher force to be helpful. You will have to find what works best for you.)
- Speed – 10
- Multicut – 2
- Blade Height – About the same as used for regular vinyl, or very slightly more exposure. The manual suggests a height of 25 Post-It notes as a starting point.
- Blade – I use the blue blade. The manual suggests the red blade.
- Some have suggested rubbing baby powder over the cut lines to make them show up better. I didn’t have any baby powder so I tried corn starch, which did help a little bit.
- Another suggestion is to put the vinyl in the freezer for a bit after cutting. The cold causes the vinyl to shrink slightly, thereby making the cut lines more visible. This does help, but the trouble is that the vinyl warms back up very, very quickly. Especially so if there is a lamp illuminating the work area.
- Which brings me to…. by all means, if you don’t have good lighting and a magnifying glass, you must invest in both of those. Here is my set-up:
After trying all of these suggestions… and more. Here is what I found works for me.
- I put my vinyl in the freezer after cutting. How long? I think a half hour is about right. I actually left it for a couple of hours while we went to dinner. It was VERY stiff… too stiff. But, it was just fine in a few minutes anyway.
- Next, I use corn starch on it. It seems to help a little, especially after the vinyl has shrunk a bit in the freezer. It can be kind of messy. I sprinkle a little on a piece of paper and then dip my finger in it and rub it on the vinyl.
- The final piece of the puzzle that seems to make everything work is keeping the surface below the vinyl cold so that it doesn’t warm up too quickly. You can see in the photo above that I have a square piece of quartz countertop that I use as a surface when weeding. (It’s a sample from a cabinet shop.) I found if I put this in the refrigerator or freezer, it stays cold and keeps the vinyl cool while weeding. If I let it get super cold, it sweats as it warms up. But I didn’t find it to be a problem. I just wiped it off a couple of times. I believe a ceramic tile would work in place of the quartz.
With all of these steps in place, I must say that GlitterFlex Ultra still does not weed as easily as regular HTV, such as ThermoFlex Plus. But, it has made some of my projects go from being nearly impossible, to manageable. And since a couple of these are projects I do over and over, it has certainly made the experience much more enjoyable!